Xavier Christmas Shopping

Xavier Santa is on the way! - Tom Pennington

It's Christmas today, which means it's time to provide frivolous gifts to your loved ones. There's probably very little overlap between my Christmas shopping list and yours, but we all love Xavier basketball. We did a little shopping for our favorite program; here's what each Muskie will find in his Banners stocking.

If you are the kind of person that loves practical gifts and thinks things like socks make the perfect thing for your loved ones to unwrap on the Christmas morning, be forewarned, our idea of practical varies greatly from yours. (Also, seek help). Here at Banners we got each member of the Musketeers something for the holiday and, while we kept it practical, we made sure they wouldn't have to fake enjoyment when they opened it.

To: Semaj Christon
From: Joel D
A Camelbak two-liter backpack and Gatorade Gatorlytes powder for cramp-prone athletes. Semaj has struggled with cramps throughout the year, and Coach Mack more than intimated that it was because he wasn't preparing himself properly between games. A big part of that is proper hydration; all Semaj will have to do now is load up his Camelbak and mix in some Gatorade powder and he'll be good to go through a whole day of classes and game prep.

To: Brad Redford
From: Joel D
A rangefinder with an effective range of up to 400 yards. Brad has demonstrated a willingness to shoot from just about anywhere on the court, and he is fairly deadly if he gets a glimpse of the tin. Getting Redford free in the same ZIP code as the basket has been tough for Xavier; if Brad can sight in from literally anywhere in the arena, that frees Coach Mack up to be even more creative with his sets.

To: Jeff Robinson
From: Brad D
A paperback (good for roadtrips!) version of Basketball for Dummies. Not sure what position you play? Not sure how many fouls you get? Not sure when to commit those fouls? Basketball for Dummies starts with the basics and works up from there. With plenty of downtime until Xavier heads to Tennessee on Dec 29th, Jeff should be able to knock this abridged version out and finally start putting some of that prodigious athletic ability to good use.

To: Travis Taylor
From: Brad D
A $500 gift card to Montgomery Inn. Frequently, the only thing that keeps Taylor from being truly elite (other than not getting the ball) is his slender frame. While I'm sure the Xavier staff has tried every healthy way to get some more muscle and weight on Trav, sometimes it just takes some good old fashioned grease and saturated fat.

To: Isaiah Philmore
From: Brad D
A fully paid entry to the Towpath Half Marathon in beautiful Peninsula, Oh. Coach Mack questioned Philmore's conditioning early this season and, despite obvious musculature, Isaiah has mostly failed to impact games down low. Part of his reticence to truly get involved could be a lack of stamina and the natural fallout from his legs carrying so much weight. There's nothing like an impending race to keep you motivated, and nothing like trying to haul 240 pounds over 13 miles to make you realize some of that needs to come off. Besides, running this race means Philmore gets a chance to spend more time with us. (Double gift!)

To: Erik Stenger
From: Joel D
Stenger is a 6'8", 207-pound forward whose game is predicated almost entirely on his willingness to get in there and mix it up with the gorillas. To facilitate his continued participation in the season, I have selected for him a Rockgardn Flak Jacket for getting in there and banging bodies and a pair of ASICS knee pads for hitting the deck after loose balls. Stenger's work is largely thankless, but now at least he'll know we've noticed his willingness to put his body on the line (and training table) for the team.

To: Justin Martin
From: Joel D
I love Justin Martin on both ends of the floor, provided he's engaged in the game and not scoping the rafters for reasons obvious only to him. Coach Mack has touched on Martin's need to stay more engaged in the game during those periods of time that the ball is not in his hands, so he will be receiving Your Brain At Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. If Justin can apply the principles in this book, perhaps he will be achieving his on-court potential in short order.

To: Tim Whelan
From: Joel D
Now I recognize that Tim isn't technically a scholarship player, but that has never stopped us here at Banners from imprinting on someone like a baby bird trying to identify his mother. Whelan is a favorite of ours and he let us conscript his name for the Whelan Watch (which will return next week after having taken this week off for holiday travel), so we thought we'd do him a good turn in kind by leaving him a mouthguard and a huge bottle of Excedrin under the tree. The mouthguard is for obvious reasons. Excedrin is my personal favorite non-controlled painkiller, as it dull sensation while providing a burst of caffeine to help power through the tough stretches.

To: James Farr
From: Brad D
Farr is currently a pick and pop four on a team that doesn't really use one. He's also a bit of a project and, godd signs aside, is probably a year away. As he spends a lot of time on the bench, I thought he could use some ways to kill the time, so I got him Travel Scrabble, the Nerf N Strike Maverick Blaster, and a basketball scoerbook, so he can look like he is paying attention.

To: Dee Davis
From: Brad D
I was a bit surprised that Joel didn't buy for his boy Dee, but that didn't mean I was going to let Xavier's new point guard spend the hypothetical holiday sad and alone. I got Dee the movie To Hell and Back, about another height challenged American who no one expected much from at first. I also got Dee a pack of finger splints to help combat the inevitable jams, fractures, breaks, and sprains that come from always reaching up into the land of the giants for the ball.

To: Landen Amos
From: Brad D
What do you get the walk-on that has everything? I'm not exactly certain, so we took a different tack with Landen. From this moment on, there will be no mention of Landen's involvement in a certain altercation last year. From now on, any reference of Landen that requires some sort of description of him will only refer to his spectacular block in the Purdue game.

To: Dante Jackson
From: Banners on the Parkway
It's no secret that Dante is a huge favorite of ours here and has been pretty much since he walked on campus. Now, all that anyone sees of Dante is whatever shirt and tie he has on as the camera pans past him to catch the latest Coach Mack reaction. So, we got Dante an $100 gift card to the Tie Bar. Celebs like Justin Timberlake love Tie Bar, so we figure it will be perfect for keeping our favorite assistant looking sharp in those camera flybys.

Well, that's our list. Obviously, we didn't actually buy all this stuff because it would be (A) prohibitively expensive on our budget and (B) no doubt a massive violation of NCAA rules. So, if you hear of each Xavier player getting exactly what we've outlined above, it was a huge coincidence and definitely not us. We had nothing to do with it.

Merry Christmas.

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